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HOLD THE DOOR!
Poor Hodor. Loyal to the end. But that was a hell of a way to go, no? Throughout the last few weeks, I’ve read several theories positing that Bran was going to be somehow responsible for Hodor’s hodor-ness, which I agreed with, but I certainly didn’t think the writers would let us in on the Hodor origin story while cutting back to his unfortunate demise saving the most important person in his existence: Bran.
Bran’s arc on the series has been one of the more confusing ones on the series. It’s been mired in mysticism, Westerosi history, and a great deal of exposition shown to Bran without much action on his part. Bran is, through his physical limitations, a passive character while in the present. However, we’ve seen that when he’s in the past, his physical body healed, he can have profound effects on those that came before him. He nearly distracted Ned from his search for Lyanna (and perhaps that brief delay was the reason he couldn’t save her life). And through his connection to Hodor (which this episode proved to be so strong Bran could reach him in both the past and present while under his trance), Bran (and, through her constant screams to “Hold the door!”, Meera) changed the entire course of young Wyllis’s life in one moment.
The poetic way to look at this particular story point is that Hodor was destined to save Bran’s life for decades, and he fulfilled that destiny brilliantly (although, things look pretty darn bleak for Meera and Bran right now). But the cynic in me can’t help but mourn that someone as good as Wyllis was stripped of his chance to live his life by the machinations of the world of Game of Thrones. Wyllis became a means to an end within the magical tapestry of the world, and that’s something truly depressing. Another instance where a commoner was simply used to further the wars of men (even if his role was one of goodness and not of destruction and pain). But, that’s one of the central themes of Game of Thrones: the average person doesn’t matter in this world, save for what they can do to help those with power and means.
Aside from the crushing sadness of losing Hodor, “The Door” was incredibly focused on moving stories forward at a brisk clip. Over in the Iron Islands, the Kingsmoot was over in the blink of an eye (unlike in the novels, where it dragged on and on and on). Theon took a major step toward reclaiming his own destiny by staying true to his word and supporting Yara, only to flee alongside his sister once crazy uncle Euron was crowned king. The show has done a pretty awful job showing us the size and breadth of the Ironborn population (there were only like 20 people at the Kingsmoot, which didn’t make much sense), so I was shocked to see how many men and ships Yara was able to commandeer. With support that wide-ranging, how did she not win the Kingsmoot? How large is Euron’s naval force? I suppose we will get answers to that at some point in the future, but it would have been nice to have a better idea of the power of the Iron Islands prior to now.
Speaking off population size, I’m not sure how I feel about Sansa rejecting Littlefinger’s offer of aid. I’m thrilled she forced him to actually confront how his actions impacted her (and that she made him literally say what he imagined Ramsay did to her- which was not even close to the beat down he deserves). I was a vocal critic of the show’s choice to strip Sansa of her agency last season and present her story largely through the eyes of the men around her. But I do appreciate that the writers (in this particular case, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss) taking the time to explore how Sansa’s experiences with Ramsay have shaped who she is now- and to have Sansa acknowledge that being a survivor of sexual violence hasn’t broken her, despite it being something she must deal with every day.
This new strong and determined Sansa has been spectacular to see (kudos to Sophie Turner for just killing it in the Littlefinger confrontation scene). But having those extra Eyrie soldiers would have been a HUGE help in taking down Ramsay. That being said, one can never trust Littlefinger’s motivations, so perhaps Sansa was right to reject his help. Her lie to Jon about it was also a bit troubling, although it was a sign that Sansa is now operating solely as her own person- something that has been long overdue.
Arya’s current arc is also intriguing (in that we’re finally getting a chance to see how the Faceless Men really operate). If Arya goes through with her assignment and murders the actress, she will also get to cross a name off her list: Cersei. True, it won’t be the actual Cersei (and the actress seems to be a genuinely nice person), but I suspect Arya will only be able to complete the murder if she can picture her true adversary whilst doing so. Arya may be many complex things, but she isn’t someone who can kill on command yet.
Last, but certainly not least, Jorah’s watch over Dany has ended. I don’t believe we’ve ever seen such complete and utter sadness on the face of the Mother of Dragons, and that final goodbye was pretty sad. However, Jorah’s story has been lagging for some time, and it will be nice to see Iain Glen get a chance to do something other than stare longingly at Emilia Clarke week in and week out. Considering Jorah will be looking for a cure, my guess is that he might make his way to Old Town and the maesters. That would also allow Sam to have another major character to cross paths with. Then again, Shireen Baratheon is the only known survivor of greyscale, so perhaps Jorah will head to Dragonstone? Either way, I’m excited to see Jorah exist in the a world where he isn’t tied so completely to Dany.
— Question for any international readers out there: How did the “Hold the door!” reveal work in languages other than English? I can’t imagine it worked particularly well.
— With this business with the theatre company, Arya has just about reached the end of her book storyline. And with that, only a few stray book threads remain for the series to touch on.
— Varys has always been one of the show’s most interesting and complicated characters. But he has never looked as surprised and frightened as he did when that Red Priestess was speaking to him.
— We didn’t have any scenes in King’s Landing this week. And I didn’t miss it at all.
— Fitting that Jack Bender, the man who directed one of the greatest timey-wimey Lost episodes (“The Constant”) was the director of “The Door.” Aside from some odd lighting issues in the Tyrion scenes, some great work from Bender.
— So, how are we going to find out the secret of the Tower of Joy now that Bran is out of the Three-Eyed Raven’s control? A continuation of the flashback? Will Meera and Bran reach Howland Reed’s castle and he’ll tell them the tale? Will Jon and Sansa reach the Reed castle and hear the story from Howland? So many options…